3.4 Cross-Examination

3.4 Cross-examination

Next, it will be your turn to cross-examine the officer by asking him questions. Remember, the goal behind cross-examination is to discredit the officer’s testimony. You are not calling him a liar. You are merely raising doubt that you committed the offence and poking holes in the prosecutor's case.

Since you’re on opposing sides, you do not have to follow the same rules as the prosecutor in your cross-examination.

  • You may ask leading questions to obtain the admission you want.
  • You may suggest scenarios, and ask them for their feedback (example: “is it possible that…”)
  • You may ask them to retell their recollection of the events.
  • You may suggest their memory might be unclear or unreliable.

 

The officer needs to remember facts independently of his notes. If the officer seems to have no recollection of the events outside of what they wrote down, you can challenge what he/she says. For example: “Officer, you seem to remember only what you wrote down. Do you really remember the events of that day? Or are you simply reading your notes?”

Cross examination should be done quickly, and efficiently. Don’t give paragraphs. Cross-examination is not the time to present your version of the events. You will get the chance to do that later.

Ask strong leading questions to encourage the answer you are seeking. Try to demonstrate that the prosecutor or police officer's version of the events are unlikely or exaggerated.

It is essential to prepare before cross-examination. Through disclosure, you should have an idea of what the officer is going to say. You should also know the case (elements of the offence) the prosecutor has to prove in advance. Come prepared with questions to poke holes in the case against you as well as any evidence that will contradict or challenge their testimony.

Once you are finished with cross-examination, the prosecutor will get the chance to re-examine the officer (asking him further questions), giving the officer a chance to clarify his or her answers to your questions. This is called re-examination. However, during re-examination, the prosecutor can only ask about things that were raised during your cross-examination. 

Once the prosecution has rested their case, you may request a motion of non-suit. Here, you are essentially asserting that the case against you has not been proven, and that your charge ought to be dismissed.